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HHS Offers Students Energy Academy Class

By Staff | Sep 23, 2009

The Wetzel County Board of Education Sept. 8 approved curricula for the newly-established Energy Academy elective classes at Hundred High School, already underway this school year with five students enrolled. One of those students is from Valley High School.

The first and second semester curricula is identical to that required and approved by the U. S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. HHS teachers Virgil Wilkins and Rex Rush are assisted in teaching the classes by certified industry instructors.

The classes include such subjects as mandatory health and safety standards, hazard recognition and prevention of accidents, evacuation and self-rescue, and respiratory devices.

The purpose of Energy Academy is to prepare students for fast-track entry into high-paying, sustainable jobs in the coal, oil, and gas industries, many of which are available in Wetzel County.

At present, Lincoln County is the only other county in the state to have a similar program, also introduced this year, to give high school graduates realistic career opportunities near home.

Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones presented a maintenance report on the 2008-09 school year that included numerous building-specific repairs or replacements of equipment and parts, as well as carpentry repairs. The report also included new or expanded installations of white boards in all schools.

Jones also updated the board on progress to convert to a keyless entry system at all elementary and high schools and the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families using swipe cards that can be programmed to specific dates and times, as determined by school principals.

Under the new system, swipable photo ID cards will be issued to faculty, staff, and extracurricular personnel to allow entry into a specific school building(s) at certain times, thereby restricting entry on a need-to basis. New cards will be issued to new employees and cards will be reprogrammed, as needed, for employees who are transferred to another assignment and/or another building.

In addition to the coded swipe card itself, the system requires the user to enter a personal identification number. If lost, the card alone will not be sufficient to gain entry.

Hardware conversion was suspended this summer so employee photo ID cards for the 2009-10 school year could be made. It is unclear when those cards will be completed and when hardware conversions would continue.

The computerized keyless system also will generate an audit trail printable report that will show what card was used, when, and where. Most of the funding for the project, about $310,000 total, will be paid by a state school access safety grants. The school system match of the total cost is approximately $41,000.

The school system’s designated programmer for the cards is County Maintenance Supervisor Jamie Doty. At present, there are no plans to convert the county office building. Some $5 million in state grants will be or have been distributed to all counties in West Virginia to convert to a keyless entry system.

The board also heard an update on the county’s strategic plan from Tammy Wells, who said the school system’s core beliefs include an obligation to help all students fulfill their full potential in a safe and secure environment.

She also said schools must partner with parents, students, and communities in the learning process that recognizes each student’s uniqueness.Wells enumerated goals for the school system that include: all students will master or exceed grade-level; students with disabilities and exceptionalities continue to receive a free, appropriate public education; all students be educated in a safe and drug-free environment that supports academic achievement; and the district will improve that achievement and enhance learning through the integration of technology and project-based learning.

Before adjourning to its next regularly-scheduled meeting, Sept. 21, the board acted on a number of personnel and staffing changes, updated approved chaperones, volunteers, and fundraisers and voted to change certain policies and procedures.

Approved on the second and final readings were revisions to the students code of conduct and the acceptable use of technology in the school system, both of which have the effect of prohibiting the use of technology for abusive conduct.